Recently, Asad Shah, a popular shopkeeper was mercilessly murdered for being an Ahmadi Muslim. He was not murdered in Pakistan, where such acts are rampant owing to extreme social ostracism against Ahmadi Muslims. He was murdered in Glasgow, where his family members are afraid for their own lives from British Muslim extremists.
Prior to his death, he had wished Happy Easter to Christians. Back in Pakistan, both Muslims and Christians had to bury their beloved family members after a dastardly suicide bomb attack that targeted the vulnerable Christian community. This included children who had gone out to celebrate Easter at their annual favourite park in Lahore.
Ahmadi Muslims, Christians, and other religious minorities in Pakistan remain oppressed due to draconian blasphemy laws and institutionalized discrimination. Their oppression seems to have no end. Unfortunately, one cannot claim that these would be the last of such horrific incidents, which also affect many Muslims.
Some claim that the draconian blasphemy laws that target minorities, and the constitutional amendment that oppresses Ahmadi Muslims must be immediately rescinded. Others claim that the stranglehold of regressive clerics must be addressed by the long-term strategy of the Pakistani government's investment in education, specifically in the social sciences and humanities.
Still others believe that a counter religious narrative to the one taught in Pakistani madrassas must be vehemently presented. A Pakistani intellectual even commented that a similar taboo against suicide bombing must be created as the one against the consumption of the flesh of the swine.
However, when people's conscience is not stirred at murdering children and vulnerable men and women, then they have already forfeited their humanity. More importantly, after countless incidents of persecution and oppression, whichever short-term or long-term strategy is adopted, the lives of the families that lost their loved ones will forever be changed.
Muslims of all stripes know the strict admonition of the Prophet (upon whom be peace) that he would personally hold them responsible if the rights of the people of the book, including Jews and Christians, were usurped. They are also aware of the strict injunction against excommunicating fellow Muslims if they recite the testimonial - "there is no god but God and Muhammad is His Messenger."
Straight and LGBT Muslims alike know the Prophetic teaching that all of humanity is like one body and if one part hurts, the rest of the body aches. They know that social ostracism of vulnerable minorities preached by power-hungry community leaders is hateful and only the first step towards eventual violence.
While doctrinal differences divide us, it is our common humanity that unites us. It is for this reason, Muslims of various denominations, straight and LGBT, Sunni and Shia, men and women, conservative and progressive have banded together to unconditionally promote the call to openly embrace their Ahmadi Muslim brothers and sisters and their Pakistani Christian brothers and sisters.
It is not clear when and how the short-term and long-term strategies against terrorism will lead to zero incidents of persecution and oppression in countries marred by indoctrination, violence and imperialism. However, in freer places in North America and elsewhere, there is much Muslims can do to isolate regressive Muslim groups and stand by their Pakistani Christian and Ahmadi Muslim brothers and sisters.
With one voice, the following Muslims assert that we resoundingly choose to embrace Ahmadi Muslims and Pakistani Christians in this hour for our humanity is incomplete without them:
- Imam Daayiee Abdullah, Founder and Executive director, MECCA Institute
- Farhat Rehman. Lead Ottawa chapter, Canadian Council of Muslim Women
- Carmen Taha Jarrah, writer, author of Smuggled Stories from the Holy Land
- Dr. Mohammad Fadel, Associate Professor & Canada Research Chair for the Law and Economics of Islamic Law, Toronto
- Dr. Khaleel Mohammed, San Diego State University
- Dr. Adis Duderija, Adjunct Research Associate, University of Melbourne
- Dr. Junaid Jahangir, Assistant Professor, MacEwan University
- Sheila Musaji, Editor, The American Muslim
- Amanda Quraishi, Board of Directors, Institute for Diversity & Civic Life
- Tehmina Kazi, human rights activist, London, U.K.
- Kelly Wentworth, Secretary, Muslims for Progressive Values; President, MPV-Atlanta, Georgia, USA
- Ayman Fadel, Augusta, Georgia, USA
- Frank Parmir, Organizer, MPV Columbus Unity Mosque
- Shahla Khan Salter, Director of Universalist Muslims
- Manwar Khan, Anti-bullying activist, Founder of Do not be a bystander Campaign
- Nakia Jackson, freelance writer
- Evelyn Hamdon, PhD Candidate, University of Alberta
- Candy Khan, PhD Candidate, University of Alberta
- Tanda Chmilovska, retired Muslim Chaplain, University of Calgary
- Shayma Johnson, Strathmore, Alberta
- Owais Siddiqui, Social Activist, World Citizen
- Hadi Hussain, Social Researcher, Lahore, Pakistan
- Imtiaz Popat, General Coordinator Salaam Vancouver
- Michael Sinan, Gay Muslim activist, Copenhagen
- Dr. Josha Hansen, Gay Muslim activist, Manchester, U.K.
- Fauzya Talib, Co-founder, Ottawa Valley Unity Mosque (OVUM)
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